Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chambord Fairy: skirt

Preparations for Costume College are beginning to pick up speed.  As I was clearing out the crafting kingdom of finished pieces for Costume Con, I set out a little inspirational pile of my CoCo projects to be there to welcome me home.  The 1950s Avengers dress there at the bottom is already done, so the next step was up to the pink and gold ridiculousness in the upper left.

There's a cluster of us that are doing a twist on the Absinthe fairy, picking a new booze and a fairy style of our own choosing.  I decided to go with Chambord, mostly because I liked the sound of the flavor and was digging on the burgundy and gold color scheme.

Then plotting led to ruffles and ruffles led me to a tutorial from Tea in a Teacup about making a steampunk skirt and a cohesive theme was born: late Victorian Steampunk Chambord Fairy.  Since the skirt was the driving force behind the costume, I started with that first.  I used the suggested cutting diagram as more of a guideline.  I originally thought to use a crisp silk like tafetta, but finding the right color at a reasonable price just wasn't working out for me.  So I ended up getting the hot pink shantung pictured above for something like $11/yd and I tried my hand at dyeing it.  The fabric took up the burgundy dye beautifully, but the texture was forever changed by the super hot dye bath.  What was once shiny and crisp had been turned into something dense and of an interesting texture...

AND I LOVED IT!  I started playing with scraps and totally fell for the petal-soft fabric with the tiny cross-hatch appearance.  I was getting a Moulin Rouge can-can dancer type feeling going on, and the ruffles just made it happen.  The skirt has a raised front panel that shows off some leg, and a faux-bustled back with two extra layers of ruffles.  Rather than a boring old zip or button closure, I embraced the hardware-heavy steampunk style and put in some gold grommets for lacing.

Three tiers of ruffles in across the back.  Each row has a three and a six inch roll of ruffles, set off with a strip of gold satin piping.

The bulk of the skirt is flat-lined with brown cotton bed sheet.  I ended up cutting the narrow side panels away a bit, to give the skirt a bit more of a swept-back look.  But this mean that a bit of the brown could be seen by someone sitting.  I'm going to add some twill tape ties to the seam between side and back panels, using these to bustle the skirt a bit.  This should help that side panel to curl inwards a bit and hide the lining.  It'll also pull the back hem up just enough to keep it from trailing on the floor.  I also took a lesson from my Avengers dress on built-in petticoats and used extra sheeting to make a small built-in bustle for added umph.

I ended up doing bias-cut ruffles and giving them a rolled hem by hand.  The super-tight weave post-dye bath didn't really need finishing on the raw edges, but the fluttery fabric was so thin that I worried the ruffles would just hang limp and lifeless.  The rolled hem makes me think of the curled edges of a rose petal, and I flipped the ruffles over so that you see the 'wrong' side of them, added additional texture.  All told, the skirt has roughly 30 yards of ruffle.  I got through the entire first season of Daredevil working on that nonsense.

Next up, I need a bodice.


  1. Holy moley, that is so pretty! It LOOKS so soft through my monitor. Can't wait to see you model this. :D

    When is Costume College? I'm getting ready for a fairly big con in a few weeks, so I understand the time crunch right now.

    1. It is wicked soft, yet oddly textured. It kind of reminds me of very old leather gloves. CoCo is at the end of July, so I've got a bit of time, but not enough to dally.

    2. I hope to one day be able to grope the frills. I LOVE old leather!

      Good luck hitting your deadline. Mine is in less than three weeks (have so much still to do! :P). Including this project, how many projects are you hoping to have done by then?

    3. That top picture with the three piles is my three new CoCo projects. The Avengers dress was the easy one. Chambord fairy has a moderate amount of stuff involved, and the Regency has the most parts. But I worked on Regency the last two days that I had off from work and the long stays are almost done, the chemist IS done, and the cap is in progress. In addition to those things, I need to make the dress and a chemisette. The apron, reticule and shoes were done a while ago.

    4. Gotcha. So you are making a good dent in the pile, with time to spare. :) Good luck to you getting it all done, although you plan your time and resources really well, so you probably don't need any luck. ;)